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article from International Herald Tribune (in turn re-printed from NY
Times) , April 23, 1999
" A broad swath of central Rome is being dug up at a site that
archaeologists describe as the largest excavation anywhere. City officials
say it will one day become the world's biggest outdoor archaeological
The excavation which will cost about $11 million began last April
and employs more than 100 workers, from archaeologists to laborers, in an
area covering 13,500 square meters (150,000 square feet). So far they have
brought to light pieces of evidence and artifacts that have added
substantially to knowledge of an area that for centuries has been Rome's
commercial and political heart.
[It is] part of a larger project that will …change …central
Rome…From 1932 to 1934, Mussolini ordered the first major excavations on
the site when he constructed the broad Via dei Fori Imperiali….His idea was
to connect the Colosseum with his offices at Piazza Venezia and lay bare
the remains of ancient Rome….
[There will be a park, info centers, benches, etc.} on the site of
the great Roman forum. [It is controversial since some people claim we
already know as much as we need to about the ancient site. But work is
progressing] on The Forum of Julius Caesar from 46BC, the Forum of Peace,
built by Emperor Vespasian from 71 to 75 after the destruction of
Jerusalem, and Trajan's Forum begun in 107….
In Trajan's Forum…the digging has raised questions about earlier
attempts to reconstruct the complex: it had been though to consist of a
large courtyard, with the monumental Column of Trajan, rising between a
basilica, or meeting hall, and a temple to the deified emperor. But
Silvana Rizzo, the chief archaeologist, said that borings on the temple's
presumed site yielded no evidence of a building.
'Was it the area around the column that was designated as a
temple,' she said, 'or was it the entire sacred area, in the sense of an
[They have also uncovered the remains of a 16th century potter's
workshop.] [These] discoveries have set off a debate about just what
remains are worthy of preservation. In a process much like peeling the
skin of an onion, Roman archaeology yields traces of successive ages from
antiquity to the present….Today experts attach the same importance to the
remains of the Middle Ages and Renaissance that they do to ancient
ruins….[So what should be destroyed and what should be saved and what
should be uncovered?]
Best, Marcia Eaton